The tournament is on!
The preliminaries were set up with four divisions of four teams, with a round robin within each division. Each game was two 12-minute halves (running time, no clock stoppages until the last 2:00). We got a crappy draw, having to play one of the three good French teams (AOC Rond) in what turned out to be the only important competitive game of the first round. We each crushed our first two opponents (by over 20 points, the cap on the point differential tiebreaker), and met in the last game of the day. The crowd was active and noisy, and they watched an intense defensive struggle, as neither team was able to get fast break points, and half-court offense was hard to come by. AOC Rond (a.k.a. “the Circles”) led 12-9 at the half (after we missed two free throws with no time on the clock), but we shut them down in the second half and took the lead at 13-12 with 2 minutes left. After a missed AOC shot with about 50 seconds left, we nearly secured the rebound, but Beau uncharacteristically fell off his uni and lost the ball out of bounds. On the ensuing play, their big man, Tiery, got fouled in the lane and went to the line for two free throws. He made the first (tying the game 13-13) and we called timeout to talk about the scenarios. The second shot clanged off to the left, and Adam secured the rebound with 34 seconds left, but Tom was called for travelling on the ensuing possession. (Tough call in that situation, but the French refs call games tight). AOC had the ball with a chance to win, but only managed a long three-point shot which hit the backboard and front rim at the buzzer.
The prelims have tight time constraints, so there are no overtimes; this left us exactly tied with AOC Rond in record (2-0-1) and point differential (+40). The tie will be broken, European soccer-style, by a shootout on Thursday morning before the tournament.
For the record, I hate shootouts in soccer and I hate them more in basketball. I’d rather play an overtime. But in the end, it doesn’t matter much; either we’ll win, and have to play AOC Square in the semis and WOOM or AOC Rond in the finals, or we’ll lose, and have to play WOOM in the semis and AOC Square or AOC Rond in the finals. If we lose in the semis, we’ll play a consolation game for third place.
Our secret weapon, Frank, will arrive in town on Wednesday, which will change some of the dynamics. The next three rounds are on Thursday, with the final at 3:00 PM local time on Friday.
Viva la Revolution!